Sampler Shenanigans and Other Sewing

20 04 2014

Piracy Warninghttp://greycatquilts.com

In a bout of ‘darn it, I want to do this!’, I finally broke down and bought twenty yards of gray solid fabric from Connecting Threads.

Yes, you read that right. TWENTY YARDS.

It arrived on Thursday, and I managed to ignore it for most of the evening after work. I couldn’t take it, though, and at about 11:00 PM, I decided that I would sew instead of sleep. Three hours later, I had two complete Dear Jane blocks.

A-1 Pinwheel Gone Awry

A-2 One, Two, Buckle My Shoe

They’re not perfect, but pretty good for 5″ finished blocks. Regardless, I’m thrilled with the way the orange and purple glow off the grey.

Continuing the mood to be making something other than scrap blocks, I then decided that I wanted to make another sampler. So, I started going through my quilting books, pretty sure I’d purchased a Jennifer Chiaverini sampler book at some point. I had, but as I was looking through it, I was distinctly not thrilled with it. (I keep looking at the Gypsy Wife Sampler by Jennifer Kingwell, though.)

So, I decided to just make 6″ blocks until I’m happy with the number, and then figure out a setting when I get there. I have enough quilt block reference books that choosing blocks shouldn’t be a problem. I started with Jinny Beyer’s The Quilter’s Album of Patchwork Patterns and made the following three blocks through Saturday. I’m just picking fabrics from my stash. The only consistency that I want is that each block have a grey or black neutral fabric in it.

Sampler Shenanigans 01 - Arrowhead Puzzle

Sampler Shenanigans 02 - Cheyenne

Sampler Shenanigans 03 - Windmill

I also completed another 12″ X 18″ scrappy panel, for a future place mat. These go quickly when they’re my leader/ender sewing.

Placemat 02

My big project for Saturday was the reorganization of my sewing area. I’d added a wireless printer to my setup with the new year, and due to the way my cutting/iron/stuff table was situated, I lost half the table to wasted space. The ‘stuff’ was also taking over.

So, I got tired of it, and when I woke up on Saturday morning, I started reorganizing my space. It took a good part of the day, especially when it came time to put all of my fabric back in the cabinet it had come out of (there was no way I was moving the cabinet while it was full – fabric’s HEAVY!)

Sewing Space Redone

When all was said and done, my sewing space feels a lot more open, and is a lot more useful. I can just swivel on my stool to access cutting station, ironing station and sewing machine. My printer is in arm’s reach, but isn’t wasting space. I added a thread rack to the wall, on which I’m only storing my Connecting Threads spools. I don’t use anything else for piecing, and it’s rare that I use something else for quilting. The bottom row of the spool rack is reserved for bobbins at the moment, though I might add a smaller rack for that purpose.

Regardless, I’m very pleased with my progress for the weekend. I plan to do more sewing today, though. It feels good to just being sewing.

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Coming Back Round

9 04 2014

Piracy Warning

http://greycatquilts.com

I meant to get back here sooner than this, but I’ve been insanely busy.

Back in February, I shared some frustrations I’d been experiencing with work. I’d been reallocated to a different area in my department, and the students I’d been working with had been transitioned to another supervisor.

That supervisor was a close friend of mine, and due to some poor ethical choices, is no longer with with my organization or the university. His choices first came to light in late February, and he was placed on administrative leave at that time. By mid-March, the decision was made that he would no longer be with the university.

So, since late February, I’ve been trying to fulfill two roles. The role I transitioned into, and taking over the Helpdesk once more. It’s been crazy and hectic. In one two week period, I put in 120 hours of work, to try to keep up, because that conversion project I mentioned hasn’t gone away. I think we’re finally coming up on the end of it, but the final end could still be a month away.

I’ve got my students back, which is great, because they are wonderful, bright people, and seem much more settled now that I’m back in the seat as their day-to-day manager. Unfortunately, I’m not as hands on as I want to be right now, due to aforementioned conversion project and attempting to actively fill two positions. I’m incredibly grateful to be back in this role with them. The talks I’ve had with individual student employees about how things were while I was gone have convinced me that they were not doing well.

In the meantime, I finally did some things to take care of myself. My annual gynecological exam for one, with a new gynecologist. Choosing a new primary care physician for another.

I saw both of these physicians in the space of about one week.

Both of them felt the need to address my weight. The gynecologist labeled me ‘obese’, while the primary care physician labeled me ‘morbidly obese.’

I’m furious. Crazy pissed off.

I’m overweight. I will admit that without an issue. I’ve known it for a long time, and have been controlling my diet for quite some time. I spent a good portion of last year working out three or four times a week, on top of the food intake management, without the scale budging at all.

The exercise fell off with the last quarter of 2013 – the person I had been working out with (coincidentally the supervisor mentioned above), stopped going and winter made me sluggish. My own fault, I know, for having lost my motivation.

My problem is the inclusion of the qualifier ‘morbidly’. I do not believe myself to be morbidly obese. The extra weight that I have does not in any way limit my mobility. I can still touch my toes, without effort, for crying out loud. I consistently have excellent blood pressure at every checkup. I eat healthfully and try to be mindful of my water intake.

But because current health standards insist on using Body Mass Index (BMI) to determine a ‘healthful’ weight, I’m morbidly obese.

The use of the BMI scale infuriates me. Despite changes to the index in recent years, BMI remains a woefully deficient manner in which to determine a person’s healthful weight range, as it only takes into account two factors: height and weight.

I stand at 5’3”. According to BMI, I should not weigh more than 110 pounds.

I don’t recall there ever being a time that I weighed so little. It must have been before I entered high school, before I ever worried about my weight.

BMI fails to take into consideration several factors, like bone density, muscle build, actual percentage of body fat. Nor does it take into consideration age. This scale consistently tells athletes that they are overweight, despite having higher muscle mass and lower body fat. On the other hand, an elderly person may be told that they are appropriately ‘thin’, though they have replaced muscle with fat as they age and become less active.

So, once again, I am limiting my daily caloric intake to 1500 calories (though I did not typically exceed that before counting calories). I have increased my intake of fruits and vegetables, increased my intake of water. When I want a soda, I drink diet root beer, and only one per day. I have only one cup of coffee per day. I’ve also started hitting the gym again, and purchased weights and a jump rope so that I can exercise at home when I cannot go to the gym.

I’ve been doing this since March 25, when I saw the new primary care physician. I have an appointment with a dietitian in two weeks. We’ll see what gets said then. I’m not sure to expect much.

In brighter news, I have been sewing!

Swirling Sea of Stars has three complete rows now. Still slow going, because of the very scrappy nature of the piecing. I’ve gotten a total of four blocks made, one of which was to replace a stained block. Looks like I need to make another replacement, since I found another stain.

Four Scrappy Stars

I’ve been in a very scrappy mood lately – I think because working in scraps is fairly mentally freeing for me – no real thought, just piecing as I pick up fabric. I decided to start on a set of scrappy place mats, just piecing fabric together as it fits together. My goal is to get to 12.5″ X 18.5″ panels of scraps. I got to one full-sized panel, but don’t plan to quilt it until I have a set of six panels:

Placemat 01

I think I’ll quilt these with straight lines – sort of  ‘keep it simple, stupid’. I could practice FMQ on these, but I’d rather do that on ugly fabric I hate.

I’ve also finally opened my Etsy shop, so my sewing tends to be split between piecing and dolls right now.

Grey Cat Handmade

This is actually a thing! I spent an entire Saturday afternoon taking good photographs of the three dolls and the clothes that are currently in the shop. I’m planning to spend some time expanding the stock – I’m hoping the shop becomes a source of additional income. I’ve invested in ‘thank you’ labels, to affix to the bags that will contain the dolls and the clothes. I’ve also invested in some more fabrics to make more dolls, and lots of safety eyes and noses.

Eventually, I will actually finish something for myself… I just need to get my butt moving on basting a top or two.





Finally Catching Up

20 02 2014

I promised this post a  bit ago, but then everyone in my house started falling ill. I’m sick for the second time in two weeks, but I don’t want to miss more work, because I have so much to do!

Sewing has been slow, mostly because sitting up without being feverish or dizzy has been a challenge 😛

I did manage a few things last month, though…

I made up a mini-quilt, for Doll Quilt Swap 14:

Sweet Little Dream House
Paper-pieced, obviously. Those log cabin blocks finish at 2″ each, and the house was a 6″ block. My partner was amber_crawley, and I sent along a bunch of charm squares from my scraps stash. I didn’t think to photograph that.

I tried some new things with this mini-quilt: double layer of batting for some loft, and free motion quilting on my home machine. I used the Fabulous Fabric Glide (mentioned in my last post), and it made a huge difference! I’m excited to try FMQ with the Fabulous Fabric Glide and my new SewSlip.

I even remembered to piece in a label:

DQS14 Back
You can see how shaky the FMQ is from the backside, but I’m still pleased that it worked as well as it did.

I also managed to finished something that had been languishing a couple of months:

Plastic Bag Dispenser
Yeah, it’s a quilted plastic bag dispenser. I got really tired of the bag of bags we had, and how nasty it looked hanging in our hall, so I whipped up what was essentially a mini-quilt from my three-inch square scraps, added some fabric I hated to make the elasticized ends and handle, threw on a button, and was done. It could have been one of those ‘done in a day’ things, but I stopped before I put the handle and button on.

It sat for three months, just waiting for that handle and button.

Yes, I do know how sad that is.

Since I was sort of on a roll with finishing things, I decided that I’m not starting anything new until I wrap up all the WIPs I have all around my sewing area. The quilt tops count, too. I will probably spend the next year doing nothing but revisiting projects, but that’s all right.

As part of my new found resolution, I got out the paper-piecing foundations for Swirling Sea of Stars, and started working on blocks. I only actually finished one, but that’s okay. I’ve at least six in progress. They’re not really that slow to come together. I’m just trying to vary the prints used in each star.

Scrappy Star 20
So, one down, and I don’t know how many more to go. I’m going until it’s the ‘right’ size, whatever that is, or I run out of scraps. I’m thinking that it’ll get to the right size first.





Gettin’ My Groove Back

16 10 2012

It’s been a while since I stopped in here… Work has been hectic, and leaving me with the intense desire to a) beat people senseless for being viciously stupid, or b) crawl into a hole and never come out. Unfortunately, neither is an option – I don’t think I’d like jail much, nevermind the orange jumpers, but I also have to earn a living.

Sadly, my very stressed work self bled into crafty self, and crafty self pretty much threw a hissy and told creative urges to go f*** themselves until work self had a good cry. Which did happen – twice. I’m never very good at feeling valued or that I’m contributing in a meaningful way to my organization, a feeling only gets magnified when I feel like the pressure is on, and suddenly I’m a morose mess, and it’s something like PMS, but worse.

Oh, and I clean.

My oven looks awesome, by the way.

But luckily for you, I took a three day weekend, and feel much better. I’m sure I’ll feel much better at the beginning of November, as I’m taking a long weekend next week.

I’ve gotten back to the sewing machine, after a few weeks of really terrible creative productivity. Another quilt top is pieced – photos to come, as it’s immense and laying it on my bed made for a truly terrible photo. I need to bribe friends to handle the blasted thing from the balcony on the second floor to make that photo possible.

Also, I finally started piecing placemats for my dining room table. I love my table set – it’s gorgeous, and I got it for a steal! Of course, I really want to protect it as well, and since heat can bleach the color out of cherry wood, I decided that placemats are in order:

Placemat PlayLucky me – everything is coming from my stash for this project, right down to the batting that will be in these. I’ll finally be using those scraps of batting I’ve saved from trimming down the excess from previous projects. And yes, I did get super retentive when cutting the geese – the repeat of this particular fabric is exactly 5.5″, perfect for this project. I’m rather liking this design – it gives me a chance to showcase some of my larger scale prints. These will finish out at 12″ X 18″, and will be bound in a fun gray dotty print.

Hubby has stated that he won’t want to eat on these because they’ll look too nice. My response was, “Why waste the time making something if it’s not pretty?” Still, I kind of get it – I’m already tempted to make a table set out of this and make a matching centerpiece and napkins. Of course, this is a pretty instant gratification project for me, time-wise. These piece up quickly, and I’m not planning on getting too crazy with the quilting. I might actually have all six pieced and quilted by the end of the week.

I’ll have to do some scrappy placemats in the near future – but maybe mix some linen in there for texture and contrast. I have plenty of scraps for this, and lots of pre-cut 2.5″ squares.

Plus, look for another Skill Builder Series post from me in the next week or so. I’ll be working up a paper-piecing tutorial over the course of the next few days, with lots of photos, as will Sandi (of Piecemeal Quilts). Thank you to both tonya and ssparrowinflight for commenting on Sandi’s blog and giving us the ‘oomph’ we’ve needed to get back in gear.